The Fall of the House of Tucker

After his son committed murder, a retired St. Paul cop had to choose between blood and justice

Evidently, U.S. District Court Judge Joann Ericksen was impressed. Given the quantity of drugs involved, she could have issued a life sentence. Instead, she gave Clem Sr. five years and levied no fine. "I wish you well," she told him. "You have a lot of people who respect you and look up to you."

In court, Tucker wept and apologized, but he says there's more to his story.

"The feds told me they had a line of people who were gonna testify to my drug dealing," Clem Sr. says. "I said, 'Don't say that to me. I ain't no fucking drug dealer.'"

He is indignant about certain particulars of his case. He claims he never threatened the security guard at the Greyhound Station. And while he knew he was smuggling drugs—"I knew they weren't cookies," as he puts it—he insists he no idea it was such a large amount.

He also believes the case against him should have been thrown out on the basis of wrongful search. "If I laid a hundred grand on some lawyer's desk, I'd be walking right now," Tucker says. "The truth will not set you free. You have enough money, that will set you free."

He takes a breath and sighs. "We're good people who ran into some bad luck," he says. "It ain't nothing like what people think."

Neither Minneapolis narcotics investigators nor the U.S. Attorney's Office are commenting on Tucker's case. Nor will he discuss the details of his crime, citing the possible repercussions for his family members. "You don't mess with the cartel," he says.

Clem Sr. insists he committed his crime for one reason and one reason only: He had borrowed money from "the wrong people" to raise money for his son's legal defense. When he couldn't repay that debt, he says, he had no choice but to do what he was told and suffer the consequences.

"When your kid falls off a boat, you don't think about whether you can swim," he says. "You jump in and try to save him."

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